A maintenance man named as a person of interest in the disappearance of Florida teenager Miya Marcano was “infatuated” with her and “constantly texting”, her family have said.
Armando Caballero, 27, worked with Ms Marcano at a student housing complex in Orlando, Florida and was suspected by police of entering her apartment using a master key just before she vanished last Friday.
On Monday, however, officers found Mr Caballero dead in an apparent suicide in his own apartment complex about 30 miles outside Orlando’s city centre.
Relatives of Ms Marcano, 19, said on Tuesday that Mr Caballero had repeatedly pestered her with romantic overtures, and that a necklace she always wore was found broken inside her bedroom.
“He was infatuated with her, he was in love with her,” Ms Marcano’s cousin Caili Sue told reporters. “I don’t know the very specifics, but he was constantly texting her.”
Semone Westmaas, one of Ms Marcano’s aunts, said she had an uncomfortable meeting with Mr Caballero on Saturday night in which he first asked if she was looking for Miya and then claimed: “I heard you are looking for me.”
Family members also told WPLG Channel 10 that a pink blanket seen in video footage being held by Mr Caballero belonged to Ms Marcano.
A spokesperson for Arden Villas, the student block where Ms Marcano lived and worked, told WPLG that it subjected all potential hires to a background check, which in Mr Caballero’s case found no records of burglary or sexual assault.
They added: “All new employees undergo thorough sexual harassment deterrence training... we take all accusations very seriously, but received none from any parties involved directly or indirectly with the situation.”
Miya Marcano was last seen around 5pm on Friday when she finished her shift at Arden Villas. She had booked a flight to Fort Lauderdale later that night, but never made it to the airport.
When family members entered her apartment on Saturday morning, they found a terrible mess, blood on a pillow, dirt on the carpet, and the broken necklace.
All of that was unusual, Caili Sue told reporters, because Ms Marcano was fastiduously neat and never wore shoes inside her bedroom.
“It looked like there was a struggle because of the dirt and jewelry on the ground,” she said. “The family is very meticulous with cleaning and keeping their place clean, so bed unmade and things scattered was odd.”
According to ABC News, investigators said that Mr Caballero’s master key was used to access Ms Marcano’s unit at around 4.30pm on Friday. Police issued an arrest warrant for burglary, only to find him dead on Monday.
On Tuesday officers were investigating a wooded area near Mr Caballero’s apartment complex, with crime scene tape put up.
Caili Sue told reporters: “I was really angry, because if he knew anything, he took that information with him and could have given us a lead.”
Local sheriff John Mina said: “Her disappearance is suspicious, and our detectives and her family members obviously suspect foul play.
“Her family raised this level of alarm and concern. Knowing Miya, she would never not be in contact with them. She would never turn off her phone, never let her phone battery drain completely down.”